Coloring Concrete: A Unique Alternative to the Gray Slab

Many homeowners run into the problem of concrete, whether indoor or outdoor, and think of it  as an eye sore. If you don’t have the money to rip up concrete to replace, traditional ways of  hiding or changing it don’t leave you with many options. Coloring concrete is a fairly easy and  cost effective way to revitalize old concrete or bring ugly concrete new life.  

There are a variety of stains you can use, each offering a different design and “life span” of  color.  

  • Liquid Acetone Dyes: Unlike powder acetone dyes, liquid acetone dyes are UV-stable,  which means they can be used on outdoor concrete. These, however, cannot be  polished. Although they penetrate the concrete, they leave a small film on top that would  be removed during polishing. Liquid acetone dyes dry very quickly and offer a wide  range of colors. 
  • Water Based Stains: Unlike dyes, water based stains act as a paint, not a stain. Water  based stains offer a wide variety of colors and are great for adding an artistic touch to  concrete. Before applying, make sure you are using them on rough concrete because  they are less about absorbing and more about bonding. The down side to water based  stains is the maintenance. Because the stain bonds to the surface, the water based  stains require regular resealing to protect the design and color. 
  • Acid Stains: Acid stains provide permanent color so long as the concrete is sealed.  Acid stains are ideal when seeking earthy tones, however because the acid reacts  directly to concrete, you are limited to these tones. Before sealing the acid, power wash  to remove any dirt or residue to ensure the seal holds. 
  • Solvent Based Stains: When using solvent-based stains on outdoor concrete, it is  imperative to use a solvent sealer afterwards. Because solvent based stains bond to the  coating and not the concrete, if the coating fades away, it is extremely difficult to  recreate the original color. Solvent-based stains are ideal for bright, lasting color in high  traffic areas.  

You can do all of these concrete coloring techniques at home. Great creative and break out  small brushes to create designs and images in the concrete. Not all concrete reacts the same to  the coloring, so it leaves you with a unique pattern and design that no one else will have.